The NMU nordic ski team is coming off another performance where the ‘Cats showed their superior depth.
In the men’s and women’s classic and freestyle races this past weekend in Brainerd, Minn., NMU had at least three skiers in the top 10 in all four races.
Head coach Sten Fjedheim said it was great to see his team race so competitively, especially because they are closing in on the two biggest races of the year.
“It was very exciting and everybody was just right on each other, and it was a very tactical race,” he said.
Fjeldheim added that all the races were close and his skiers picked the time to hit their strides correctly.
In the women’s classic race, sophomore Marie Soderman came in first at 15:15, senior Laura DeWitt fourth, sophomore Christina Gillis sixth and junior Anna Berglund ninth.
In the men’s classic, junior Martin Banerud finished in second, while senior Phil Violett took third and fellow senior Justin Singelton finished in seventh. There was only a two-second margin between first and 10th place.
In the women’s freestyle race, DeWitt took second, Soderman third, sophomore Ingrid Fjeldheim fourth, Berglund eighth and Gillis finished out the pack at tenth.
The men’s race came down to the wire as well, as Banerud finshed in first, just three-tenths of a second ahead of teammate Violett who finished in third. Other top finishers were junior Tim Cook in seventh and Singelton in ninth.
Fjeldheim said the course was very fast for the day, and that both teams skied well when they had to.
“That pack of those top-10 skiers was incredibly tight the whole weekend,” he said. “But I think they skied a good race, both as a team and strategically.”
NMU now has a week off before the ‘Cats travel to Michigan Tech for the CCSA Regional Championships. Fjeldheim said he will use this time to ready his top three skiers for the NCAA Nationals on March 8-14 in Bethel, Maine. Only three skiers from each team compete in the national race.
Fjeldheim said the top spots for the men’s and women’s team are secured by Banerud and Violett, Sodermen and DeWitt, respectively.
He added that he will use this week and the regional race to decide who will fill the third spot for each team.
Violett said it is difficult for the rest of the team that only three are going to go because so many more deserve to as well.
“It is going to be so tight and you want all them to go. It is hard to know who to push at practice and who to help out the most,” he said. “But you want who is ever going to ski the best at NCAA’s and any of those guys could do it.”
DeWitt had similar remarks for the third spot on the women’s team.
“I think right now they’re pretty close still and it will probably come down to regional’s,” she said. “It is hard because we can only take three girls on our team to NCAA’s, when many more deserve to go.”
Fjeldheim said it is nice to see the inner-team rivalry that his team has.
“At practice I see them supporting each other but when they’re out on the race course they are definitely trying to win it so it is going to be close,” he said.
Since the regional race will not be until next week, Fjeldheim added it will be nice for his team to get a much needed rest.
“It is going to be awesome, because the